This weekend, a 41-year-old rhino named Nola died. She had been living in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for close to 27 years. Her death means that there are only three northern white rhinos left on the planet.
Nola was euthanized on Sunday. She had a successful surgery on November 13th to address an infected abscess, but her condition became much worse on Saturday. She was the last white rhino in North America. Now, there are only two female northern white rhinos left on Earth — and both are unable to reproduce, according to The New York Times. The surviving male is in a similar situation; his sperm count is very low. All three are housed in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
"We’re absolutely devastated by this loss."
"We’re absolutely devastated by this loss, but resolved to fight even harder to #EndExtinction. We ask you to join us in that fight," the San Diego Zoo Safari Park wrote in a Facebook post. "Let this be a warning of what is happening to wildlife everywhere." Northern white rhinos went extinct in the wild in 2006; before that, they were poached for their horns.
It seems likely that the northern white rhino will soon be extinct. There are efforts underway to prevent that from happening, however. The San Diego Zoo wants to implant northern white rhino embryos into southern white rhino surrogates, according to Scientific American. The zoo gathered rhino genetic material specifically for this purpose; it's currently housed in its Frozen Zoo.